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Making the case for the Dark Side

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Making the case for the Dark Side

Postby Squarebear » Fri Feb 07, 2014 4:05 am

I was 24 when I first encountered contractors. The principle of contracting had to be explained to me by one of the dozen or so freelancers in my office.

They seemed largely happier than the rest of us. Ok, there was one who moaned about his accountant, and another – incidentally the first Jew I’d ever knowingly met (yes, this was a period of several “firsts” for me) - who’s desk drawer overflowed with “crunchie” wrappers because Cadbury had an offer on at the time. But overall they seemed a happy bunch. I envied them their nice cars and generous expense allowance, and their joie de vivre.

Yet there was an acceptance among them that one day they would give up their contracting ways and move across to the dark side of permiedom. When asked “why?” one of them , to nods of affirmation from the others, explained “There is nothing sadder than a fifty year old contractor”.

Last birthday I turned fifty. And you know what? There indeed is something desperately sad about reaching one’s half century yet still being able to walk through the city I live in and not know a soul. OK, I know my immediate neighbours, and the girl who cuts my hair, and my dentist (though I suspect he fakes his excitement at seeing me every six months). But beyond that my friends are all at the end of a phone – mostly contractors like me who text message their network of ABAP friends, at the start of a new assignment, like wolves howling in the forest, to establish if anyone from their pack is near enough to perhaps meet for a few beers on Thursday.

Turning fifty is a landmark deal, of that there’s no doubt. The sudden death of a dear friend two years ago was a warning sign that the days of taking one’s health for granted were nearing their end. So if I have twenty years left before I start weeing myself and talking gibberish then 1 year equates to 5% of my decent remaining time on Earth. Suddenly spending another year farting about on a business park then drinking in a Wetherspoons seems wasteful.

I want a greenhouse.

I don’t really. But I want to feel alive. Maybe a greenhouse will help me develop a sense of belonging in this remote city where jobs are so few. I dread six monthly appraisals, having to request time off, petty politics, and irritating work colleagues who won’t disappear at renewal time. But I feel like a middle order batsman who has come to the crease with us needing over a run a ball. Changes have to be made.

Cover me. I’m going in.
Possibly the most modest person in the world.
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Re: Making the case for the Dark Side

Postby blueteeth » Fri Feb 07, 2014 11:59 am

Wholesome advise I found. I couldn't add or deduct anything from it.

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others,
even to the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter,
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be.
And whatever your labours and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrman - 1926
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Re: Making the case for the Dark Side

Postby Martin_US » Fri Feb 07, 2014 4:02 pm

I'd be turning that corner soon as well.

Now, I would happen to agree with you on many points and the green house.
There have been times when I was able to work from home, those were the happier days, even if the hours were long.

For most agencies, I have no respect. For most companies, I can't gather much either.

I have mainly done international projects and I constantly meet the very same problems.
No, they aren't SAP problems, they are poor project execution problems.

My biggest issue is and always will be the 'on site'. I understand sometimes there is the need for face-to-face and that's ok as a functional consultant, but especially in IT we have means and tools to do better. Much better.

I was on a project for an implementation in China, Korea and Taiwan driven out of Australia with HQ in the Bay Area.
For no better argument than having the consultant in the office, they wasted time and money.
I would have been happy to work nights from home to accommodate the time difference and get things done much faster.
But no, I had to do the 8 to 5 drill. Completely nuts.

What also bothers me, no matter how good my argument, you are ignored by someone acting like a 5 year old stomping his foot.

I was on a project in Germany and they had modified SAP very heavily ever since, but not following programming standards.
Every text element was defined in the code, next to all the 'drivers' that make their business.
They wanted to use their version for another country, implementation time 6 month.
Just the translation of all the text elements would have taken a solid year. This was even confirmed by another consultancy.

I am sick and tired of idiots in our line of business.

I learned my job from the ground up. My degrees are in economy and informatics. I did my PMP before there was even such a school for it (early 90's)

Right now I am on the hunt for a perm position, but I am rather selective. It's not so much about the money, but to avoid the nut cases in the business. That's very difficult.

So, I feel with you. Keep your head up.

I actually thought getting 35 was pretty bad :)
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Re: Making the case for the Dark Side

Postby Craig » Mon Feb 10, 2014 3:26 pm

I poked my head in and I find an interesting topic!

Well.. I can say I'm well past my 50 year mark. Not yet to the 60's but the high beams can kind of see them.

I've thought about a permie job and have even taken a look at one or two. But haven't seen anything that really intrigues me yet.

One of my issues is that now, there is really no time left for a decent retirement plan, (for those few places that still have them), or even a nice 401k. And most of the company 401K plans have certain limitations around investing and vesting. The closer you get to that retirement date that less attractive a permie spot becomes. If you don't care about the money, maybe it's a different story. I thought having a steady 9-5 (8-5, 7-4, etc..) job would be nice. But when I look at the IT folks at most of my client companies over the years, I see very few of the permies actually working those hours. They too are often doing work at home, putting in a few extra hours every week, working over lunch, etc... and they are on salary! I'm not sure I work any less hours than what I do now!

Having local friends in the town you live in can more difficult if you are traveling but not impossible. I don't think a permie job will resolve that issue though. Yes.. you meet people at work, have some friends there, but would you really get to the point of inviting them over for dinner on the weekend? Go out for a beer afterwards? Maybe one or two. But probably not many more people than that. At least not when you get into your 50's. That whole "meeting friends" and going to happy hour after work is mostly a 20 something thing. Or at least a singles person thing. With a family at home it's tough to justify going out with the crew from work on any regular basis.

I think the key is that when you are home, you have to be truly home and all work is left where ever you call your workplace, (even if that is a basement office at home). I know I always want to give 110% to my clients but as I get older and older, I realize that more and more that it is not a two-way street. My 110% doesn't get 110% back. Working extra hours in the evening, or on weekends isn't as greatly appreciated as it once was.. it's almost expected. But hey.. I'm not your employee... you'll cut me without thinking twice. Even if I was your employee, you'd still cut me without thinking twice.

So now, when I'm home, I really try to be home and do things outside of my work. I still check mail at night and weekends.. but unless its a real emergency I've stopped replying. Otherwise, for me, it fire department activities, cycling club, pond club, church, etc....

When you do retire, if you don't have outside things, your retirement will be short-lived. You'll die young or find yourself coming out of retirement.

I love doing what I do. But I can tell you I won't miss it all that much when I really retire. I'll have plenty of things to do and SAP will hopefully just be one of those things I once did.

Craig
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Re: Making the case for the Dark Side

Postby Squarebear » Tue Feb 11, 2014 5:24 am

Annoyingly there's not really anything to disagree with in Craig's post.

Retirement provision is a definite concern, even as a contractor. Goodness knows what I am letting myself in for in this regard by going permanent.

I agree that making friends at 50+ is a much tougher gig than when in one's twenties.

The thought of working in the bureacratic environment I am headed towards is daunting.

Plus there's an unspoken joy in jumping into one's car on a Friday and leaving work far far behind.

Maybe my circumstances are extreme. I left a comfortable environment (good friends, nice working environment) back in the early 1990s and since then have meandered around the globe SAPing. Sometimes the adrenalin of dashing to airports, staying in beautiful hotels, doing seemingly exotic things on a Tueday night in Milan or a Thursday in San Francisco can go some way to masking that sense of rootlessness.

Twenty years have flown by. The good friends I left behind have packed their kids off to university and moved on. My new life at the other end of the country awaits and I need to crack on with it. You've got to be in it to win it, as they say. Cycling to work instead of driving four hours, joining a local gym, enrolling on an evening class, doing my admin and my ironing on a Wednesday rather than frantically cramming it in to the weekend, going circuit training, sleeping in my own bed - they might all prove to be anticlimactic, but it's time to give them a shot.
Possibly the most modest person in the world.
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Re: Making the case for the Dark Side

Postby Squarebear » Tue Feb 11, 2014 5:28 am

Craig's last point about doing stuff outside SAP. That's the key. I've got nothing going on. No hobbies. I devote as much of my weekend as possible to The Lovely Mrs Bear. No time for developing interests. If I retired tomorrow I'd be bored within a week, dead inside a year. Finding hobbies is going to be one of my more interesting assignments. I hope.
Possibly the most modest person in the world.
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Re: Making the case for the Dark Side

Postby Martin_US » Tue Feb 11, 2014 11:32 am

Well,

hobbies are obviously a very personal thing.
Some people enjoy sports, others prefer calmer things, then there might be some wood working.

I for one enjoyed gardening to a point. Problem with that as a consultant is simply the time.
I tried to somewhat balance that by hiring the neighbor kids for some of it, like mowing the lawn.
But on 1.5 acres there is plenty of work, if it is supposed to look nice.

I guess we all have that issue when we travel and depending on how the home is, we need the helping hands.
There is simply not enough time on a weekend to get it all done.

I have never been the type of guy who needs to do stuff in other cities. My social engagement usually stops with going out to lunch. Considering that colleagues are from other areas and we might never meet again, I never wanted to engage in mental garbage exchange.

Maybe you should look into fishing. Not so much gear to take with you and you can do that almost anywhere, cept Death Valley :) Also not going to cost you a fortune, if you find out it's not for you.
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Re: Making the case for the Dark Side

Postby Seany » Tue Feb 11, 2014 4:31 pm

Johnny

With respect to outdoor pursuits to take your mind off of work I am a little surprised that no one has suggested this yet but perhaps they don't realise that you are Welsh

Baaaaaaahhhhhh!
Sean

I wish you good courage because courage will lead you to be a star and afraid will lead you to death. Be well and patient.


_____________
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Re: Making the case for the Dark Side

Postby VLozano » Wed Feb 12, 2014 3:47 am

Seany wrote:Johnny

With respect to outdoor pursuits to take your mind off of work I am a little surprised that no one has suggested this yet but perhaps they don't realise that you are Welsh

Baaaaaaahhhhhh!

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
Tuly Idiots
Because we know we are part of the problem
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Re: Making the case for the Dark Side

Postby Rich » Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:07 am

Congrats on the half century Mr Bear.

Been there, seen it, got the t shirt and I still love contracting.

Martin's right about the '8-5 office' though, although I've managed to get a contract working 3 weeks in every month from home (I told them no the first time, no the second and 'Go away' the third. Then they said 'Alright'.

Now, all we have to put up with are those spring chickens amongst us (Mr Vic.... :lol:).....
Regards

Rich

Image
Abap KC:http://www.richard-harper.me.uk/Kb
SFMDR:http://www.se37.com
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Re: Making the case for the Dark Side

Postby VLozano » Tue Feb 18, 2014 4:01 am

Spring chicken... nobody told me this before... I'm more in the autumn, I guess... But hey, birds are the natural evolution from the dinosaurs, Mr Abaposaur ;)
Tuly Idiots
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Re: Making the case for the Dark Side

Postby Android » Wed Mar 05, 2014 10:48 am

Seany wrote:Johnny

With respect to outdoor pursuits to take your mind off of work I am a little surprised that no one has suggested this yet but perhaps they don't realise that you are Welsh

Baaaaaaahhhhhh!


Steady boyo, innit :wink:
I'm not prejudiced, I hate everyone.
Save the Earth ...... It's the only planet with beer!
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Re: Making the case for the Dark Side

Postby Squarebear » Wed Oct 22, 2014 8:22 am

Oh. And for the record I'm still here doing the same old....

I was invited to final interview, told them I couldn't make that particular date, then while waiting to hear back from my agent she rang to say I was no longer being considered.

For the best, methinks, for both them and me.
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Making the case for the Dark Side

Postby RichardGhval » Sun Jun 04, 2017 8:01 am

Is making a non-commercial game explicitly set in the Dwarf Fortress world allowed?
I asked this on IRC and got "probably yes" for an answer, but was told to ask on the forums as well.

If yes, then is promoting it by constantly mentioning Dwarf Fortress and putting "Dwarf Fortress" in the title allowed?
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